Trouble, the brewery cat

Recently Trouble Brewing invited Irish Craft Brewer to a barbecue and tour of their new brewery in Co. Kildare. Trouble along with Dungarvan is one of Ireland's newest craft breweries and both breweries are run by Irish craft brewer members. When I first joined Irish Craft Brewer a few years ago I went along to the first tasting night that they held in The Bull and Castle. That night I met Thom an enthusiastic home brewer who was studying brewing and hoping that one day he would open a brewery. Most home brewers have fanciful day dreams involving their very own brewery and brewing batches of wonderful beer but very few ever actually make that dream a reality. Thom along with Paul and Stephen who are also ICB members have done that very thing. I loved reading their blog as they battled with equipment, red tape and electrics while setting up the brewery. It certainly gives an insight into all the hard work and dedication it takes to turn the day dream into a reality.

Last Saturday we went along to L Mulligan Grocer where we boarded a bus bound for Trouble.  

The brewery is compact and they've really worked wonders getting all the necessary equipment into the building. Of course all us brewing fans were checking out the shiny mash tun and kettle and looking at all the pipes trying to work out what went where. We spotted the white board that we gave the guys as a present being put to good use. A white board is a handy thing in a brewery, it helps one keep track of what's in each fermenter and when it was put there. The festival bar that they use at events was pressed into service to slake the thirst of the home brewers. Many pints of Trouble's ├ôr were poured. It's a fabulous beer, I really like it. I think it is pretty much the perfect beer for summer drinking. There's a lovely soft malt profile with a fabulous slightly fruity hoppy bite. You should definitely try it if you get the chance. As always the Irish Craft Brewer list of pubs that stock Irish beer should help you find it.     
Paul worked his magic with the barbecue doling out burgers and sausages to some hungry home brewers. As he said you can't go wrong with beer and burgers. It was a great day but every great day can be made better with the addition of a kitten and some serious cuteness. Shortly after we arrived B spotted what she thought was a kitten running across the car park. She eventually arrived back with a small kitten. A mother cat was nowhere to be found and the guys said there are no houses nearby so the poor little thing was lost and abandoned. Milk was found and he lapped it all up so he was obviously hungry. Thom is a fan of cats and said if they were in the brewery more regularly he could have become the brewery cat. Thom eventually decided to bring the little guy home to see how he got on with his own cat. If they don't get on he'll find him a home. I'm hoping that the kitten will be called Trouble. From the pictures below you can see he definitely wants to be a brewery cat. 



Easkey Wrap

After finishing up Annis I started knitting away on my summer cardigan. I think it should be finished just as we come into the autumn which is fine as for once we're enjoying summer weather in Ireland. It would be too warm to wear the cardigan just now. Since I'm in no rush to finish the cardigan I started thinking of projects new and decided to cast on using some old stash. I feel I'm doing quite well with my stash recently. I've been working with what I have and giving away stuff I definitely won't use. I had five balls of salmon pink mirasol cotanani that I got on sale in This Is Knit ages ago  and was planning to use for some sort of vest. Plans changed however when I spotted Carol Feller's captiva wrap on her blog just after she published the pattern. I fell in love with the pattern and there was just enough cotanani to make it so I ear marked the yarn to make the wrap.

I cast on last week and am in love with the pattern and the yarn and how it's all working up. The pattern is wonderful, it's just so cleverly put together. It's worked side to side and the edging is worked along with the pattern. It's a very satisfying knit as you see the lovely scallops emerging and it's going so quickly. The yarn is lovely too, the mix of wool and cotton give a lovely crisp stitch definition. It's probably the perfect antidote to the intricacies of Annis. I love how it's turning out and can't wait to see it finished as I think it will be really wearable.

The scallops along the edge of this pattern and the shape of the wrap remind me of a wave as it’s just about to break. So I’ve named my version of this pattern Easkey after the famous wave break in Sligo. There’s a famous Irish surfer called Easkey Britton who was called after the wave so maybe it’s no wonder she grew up to surf. I’d imagine her throwing on this wrap in a casual way to warm up after catching a few waves in the cold clear water off the west coast. I might use it for the same thing even though I'm really terrible at surfing. I usually flop around the place on my boogie board getting odd looks from the real surfers, probably because my wetsuit is a state as it's more a canyoning wetsuit. It's got holes and is ripped from catching on rocks while abseiling down waterfalls.    

I also crocheted up a quick phone cover using some Kilcarra Donegal tweed for my husbands new phone. Crochet covers are great, so quick and easy. This one was done by chaining the right number of stitches to go along the bottom of the phone then double crochets all around the chain and working in the round until it was big enough to cover the phone. I've been crocheting some small things recently and have enjoyed getting my crochet mojo back. I think I'm ready to move on to something bigger. I'd love to do a shawl or something but I'm going to keep searching until I find a really nice pattern. 

Here's some dyeing I did recently. It's 100g of shetland top I got ages ago and was hoping to dye. I think it turned out really well.  I think it will look really cool when I spin it up.

Typical me, I started something... And now I'm not too sure

I think all my blog post titles should be Morrissey lyrics from now on. Yesterday I finished my Annis shawl. It took me about a month to do it which is not bad considering I missed a few weekends of knitting. I blogged about starting it here when I thought it would go quickly enough. In this post the sad tale of the nupps emerged. I really struggled with them and so I left out the second row of nupps. I then avoided the project for a bit as I didn't want to do the next row of nupps. Luckily someone on Ravelry suggested this video which uses a crochet hook to do the nupp stitch all in one go. This eliminated the need to purl seven together and may have saved my sanity. Even though the nupps were easier the row still took ages.

I was very happy to reach the stocking stitch short row section. I'd been told the short rows really flew but I wasn't convinced as I was so slow knitting the lace section. I was proved wrong and knit the short row section really quickly. I think I got most of it done at the cookie exchange night last week. A cookie exchange night you say? A few of us knitters including R from she knit up that ball, Tea and Cakes and K from chocolate bunni crafts met up for some knitting and chat with a batch of cookies each. We then exchanged cookies so everyone went home with a selection of cookies. I've been munching tasty home baked cookies all week. It was such a fun night and coming home with yummy cookies and some new stash (thanks R!) was a bonus.

Back to Annis, here it is all finished and blocked. The malabrigo laceweight was really lovely to knit with and I love the colourway, which is olive if anyone is interested. The pattern suggested 5mm needles and I used them after my first cast on and the fabric seemed very loose and floppy so I went down to 4mm when I cast on again. I usually need to go down a needle size for most patterns anyway.

I'm not entirely sure why I didn't really enjoy knitting this but for some reason it was more an exercise in perseverance than enjoyment. Hence the title of the blog post. I loved knitting my Ishbel shawl and the Storm Cloud Shawlette but for some reason this didn't float my boat. I think it might be because it is done from the outside in rather than inside out like most shawls. It starts with so many stitches that by the the time I got to the shorter rows I was already a little sick of it. The lace part isn't difficult and there are only eighteen lace rows but it is very time consuming because of the nupps. Maybe I thought that after spending so much time on the lace I'd have more to show for it at the end. I'm not very keen on the look of the nupps in the end either. They're just bobbles with a fancy name and they're not that special looking for all the work that went into them. I think I would probably use beads instead of nupps if a pattern requires them in future. It also turned out smaller than I thought it would be, maybe I should have used sock yarn or used the needle size recommended in the pattern. The picture of the shawl in Knitty looks a good bit larger than mine. It's really more a scarflette than a shawl.

Saying all that though I don't dislike the end product, it is what it is and given some time I'll love it despite my slight disappointment about how it turned out. It's pretty and delicate and will be lovely draped around the shoulders. I probably won't wear it much as a shawl but more as a sort of short scarf/cowl type thing.  Here's some more pictures of the finished Annis.

As always all my craft projects are collected in this picasa album.

Tour De Fleece, First Week

The first week of the tour de fleece is over and I've finished my first yarn. It's the trick or treat batt from Laura Hogan core spun around a cotton thread. It's chunky weight and there's just about 170 m of it. I think this will be made into a scribble lace type scarf. It's so soft and the colours are fabulous, I love it. 

Crimes against crochet

I went to the library last night and was browsing the craft section when I found a real gem of a book. Without delay I decided to get the photos I took of the works of textile genius contained in the book onto the blog. I figure it's Friday and everyone could use a good laugh before the weekend.

I've rarely laughed as much at a book before. The front cover is on the left and reveals that the book is called 'Glorious Crocheted Sweaters'. Glorious indeed. The model does look a little dubious though don't you think? Maybe that is because of the giant colourwork cardigan she is trying to rock. The neck tie isn't really adding anything here is it? To me it looks like a paper napkin that she forgot to remove after having some lunch.

Anyway onwards and upwards we have many more 'glorious' sweaters to see...

This looks warm but that's about the only thing you can say in it's favour. And if you have a thing for crocheting crazy clashing tartans then don't worry you can also clothe your children in them. You can use a lovely fuzzy mohairy yarn too and don't worry it won't fit them either. I'm sure these jumpers weigh like a million kilos as well as being stiff like a board due to the colourwork.  

Now on to something a little lighter and more suitable for summer.

Words almost fail me. What sort of a pose it that? I'm no fan of yellow and red together and this ensemble really isn't going to convince me. Also this is supposed to be a summer garment. I'm sure it's made of acrylic yarn too, this means if you wore this on a hot day you'd most likely melt and die both from embarrassment and heat exhaustion.

I love the look of the model in this picture. You can almost hear the thoughts inside her head. 'I'm sorry my child but yes I did crochet us matching pastel chevron stitch jumpers and now I'm trying to pretend to everyone that this was a good idea and that we look fabulous but I know we are living a lie. You poor innocent thing, you did nothing to deserve this.'

An aran style jumper is necessity in the snow and when teamed with ear muffs you will be warm and stylish. Sadly your dog on seeing you will slump into an existential ennui and lie on the ground and refuse to move.

Sadly we're at the last photo I took of the 'glorious' crocheted sweaters. I think I have saved the best for last though. By best I actually mean damaging, if you saw this picture and decided that really it would have been better for the world if crochet was never invented I can't say I'd blame you. The world might have been better off if we were all still wandering around butt naked than clothe ourselves in sweaters such as the ones you are about to see.

These poor poor children? Where are they now? What untold damage did this modeling assignment do to them? Did they ever get counseling? Are they sitting forgotten in some mental institution blabbering to themselves about the pain and trauma of being made dress like this? I wish I knew.

I suppose I must now provide you with a link to Amazon should you wish to rush out and purchase this classic of textile design. Actually for further laughs read the reviews. Most of them are positive! I hope there aren't people out there inflicting these designs that time forgot on their loved ones in this day and age.

L. Mulligan Grocer

Last Thursday we went along to the opening of Dublin's newest craft beer pub. The special thing about this pub is that it's owned and run by friends of mine, Seaneen of 9 Bean Row and Colin of California wine imports. They've been working away frantically to open the pub for the last while and Thursday night was the first night they opened their doors.

The pub is called L. Mulligan Grocer and is located in Stoneybatter just across from the beer tardis that is Drink Store. Stoneybatter is now quite the destination if you like craft beer. The pub is still in the process of being finished so there is no food yet but I'll definitely be back to try it when there is.

We got a very warm welcome and some nice cold pints of Trouble Brewing Or. Well Dave did, I was driving. It's a lovely cosy old school pub with nice wood panels to split up the bar. The beer range is already fantastic with a large selection of Irish beers on draught and no Guinness, Carlsberg or any other mass produced beer. There is a large selection of bottled beers from all over the world too. There's also an extensive whiskey menu.

What struck me about the place was that it had only been open a few hours and already there was a lovely busy vibe from the place. It felt like a local with people chatting away. Long may it continue that way. Congratulations guys, the pub is fabulous and I wish you every success in the world with it.

Tour De Fleece 2010

The start of the Tour De France signals the start of the Tour De Fleece for spinners. Yes it's yet another odd event that fiber loving folks participate in because of Ravelry. Every day the tour rides you spin your wheels too, or spindles. The Ravelry group is here. I spun my spindle every day last year as I was away on holidays during the tour and looking back I didn't blog about it.

I haven't been spinning so much of late and I'm really looking forward to spinning every day. I hope I can watch the Tour De France too. I remember always seeing it when I was young and went to visit my aunt. My cousin was and still is obsessed by cycling so he was cheering the Irish cyclists on back in the days when Sean Kelly and Stephen Roche were on top. My cousin went on to became a pro for a while racing in Europe and he still races in Ireland.  

Back to the spinning. I started core spinning this lovely batt called Trick or Treat from Laura Hogan. I'm hoping to finish that fairly quickly. My plan after that is to finish off the laceweight alpaca I've been doing and maybe start on some merino and silk mix.